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Review of How Stephen Merchant’s Portal 2 Performance Compares to His A Boy Called Christmas Role

Stephen Merchant is mostly known for his roles in The Office and various other film and TV projects, but he also left quite a mark on the gaming community with his character Wheatley from Portal 2. The incompetent personality core was something different for him as he hasn’t done any other roles outside of Wheatley in the video game space. But his recent role as Miika the Mouse in A Boy Called Christmas strangely brought back memories from that 2011 game, as he told ComingSoon in a recent interview.

RELATED: A Boy Called Christmas Trailer Previews Netflix’s Fantasy Holiday Film

When prompted about creating chemistry between live-action and CGI characters, Merchant spoke about how he was allowed to adlib to create more chemistry and avoid “being very rigorous and just reading the scripted lines.” To him, freedom in the booth can make the performance feel more alive and can help the audience connect more with the film. He then brought up that he done “something similar when [he] did a voice for a video game.”

“They’re very similar in a way because you go into a recording booth and you are very dependent on the director telling you what they need, because you’re having to imagine a lot of it,” said Merchant. “Particularly in the case of this movie or indeed Portal, all the little of the visual effects haven’t been done yet so they’re sort of having to describe them to you. So you have to sort of get yourself in that in that headspace of where you’re running and what you’re scared of or in the case of Portal, shouting down imaginary gantries on a space station.

RELATED: A Boy Called Christmas Casts Kristen Wiig, Sally Hawkins & Maggie Smith

He then said the process that, while it does result in a better end product, is pretty tiring.

“They end up being very tiring because you’re there in the booth and you’re shouting and you’re pretending to run and you’re screaming and you’re going through all the different sort of emotions you and you have to sort of condense them into a few hours of recording,” he said. “So they can actually be quite exhausting and quite sort of labor-intensive, but they can be really fun as well.”

Wheatley was Merchant’s only video game role, but he has voiced the character three times: once in Portal 2 and then two other times in Valve’s other shooter Team Fortress 2 and then for Lego Dimensions‘ Portal-themed level pack.

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